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Bee virus investigator wins vita research award

The 2007 Vita Research Award has been won by  Dr Nizar Haddad, of Jordan's National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension for his study of honey bee viruses.

Dr Haddad was presented with the award at the BD Trust Reception during the Apimondia Congress in Melbourne. Dr Haddad investigates the pathogens that affect honey bees, working to enable the technological transfer of results to beekeepers in his own country and beyond.

Dr Max Watkins, Technical Director of Vita, said: “The more we study the causes of honey bee disease, the more important the role of viruses appears to be. Dr Haddad'’s research is particularly timely because of the current suspicions that Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) — named because it was first identified in Israel - may be an underlying factor in  CCD in America and may eventually be found to be associated with other sudden bee losses around the world. Researchers are by no means certain that this is the main cause, but Dr Haddad’s work may help cast some light on the issue”.

Dr Haddad said: “Viruses are a prime source of confusion and error in diagnosing and managing honey bee diseases, because there is a poor understanding of the dynamics underlying viral disease outbreaks. So far, at least 18 honey bee viruses have been identified across the globe and many of these can be present in a colony at any one time. It is therefore very difficult to identify bee virus infections and almost impossible to differentiate mixed virus infections in the field. We have established a specialised laboratory to study viruses and other diseases using molecular techniques and want to co-operate not only with the Arab world, but with scientists and specialists across the globe”.

A comprehensive virus survey using DNA-sequencing technologies, says Dr Haddad, may yield new strains of known viruses and possibly new virus species, as well as providing an indication of the distribution of viruses and strains known throughout the world.

Welcoming the research, Jeremy Owen, Sales Director of Vita, said: “We have been particularly pleased with the quality of the research resulting from Vita’s first two awards which were announced at Apimondia 2005and 2007. Projects can focus on any aspect of honey bee health and we welcome applications from individuals and organisations”.

Applications for Vita’s next award may now be submitted. Closing date 31 May 2008. See www.vita-europe.com